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I am a nursing assistant in a nursing home.


I recently manually transferred a patient from bed to wheelchair by hand (which I know is unsafe and illegal but that’s how we do it here) and I almost dropped her. The brakes on the wheelchair were broken. So when I attempted to place her in the chair, the chair kept moving.


If I would have been a little weaker or the patient a little heavier I might have dropped her, her hip might have broken etc.


I spoke to another woman about this. One brake on her husband’s wheelchair is broken. She said she made several complaints to the staff with no results.


I contacted the department of health and I asked that I remain anonymous.


My manager spoke to me today and said that he knows that I made this complaint. He explained to me that I must be loyal to the nursing home and never make a complaint to the health department but rather come to him and he will be happy to take care of it. He added that he had not heard any complaints from the woman I mentioned.


Does anyone have any opinion about this?

I'd play his game. Tell him first. However, give him only a week to correct things, only a day or two if patient safety is at risk. If he says anything, just tell him "I brought it up with you first and waited a reasonable amount of time for you to correct it, now I have no choice but to take the problem to someone who will handle it before an injury occurs." Document EVERYTHING and get pics if you can - that's job insurance.
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Reply to lablover64
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You follow the chain of command and the procedures laid out by your employer, the only reason to go outside the facility is if you have exhausted all the in house options available and there is still no resolution.

Who owns the wheelchair? If it belongs to the family then it is their responsibility to keep it in good repair, if it belongs to the facility then there should be a process in place to report maintenance needs. You should have refused the unsafe transfer due to equipment failure. After speaking to his wife you should have assisted the family with how to properly report a problem - talking to you and other aides isn't it.

I'm coming back to add - My answer is based on the assumption that you are a new employee and have no reason to assume that your concerns would go unaddressed. I did a lot of stupid things when I was a young worker that I never should have attempted, it is a sign of maturity that you can admit you can't do something and you ask for help.
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Reply to cwillie
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ImageIMP Aug 5, 2019
Excuse me? If the equipment belongs to the family, but it's broken by NH staff due to carelessness or frustration, why again should the family have ANY responsibility for repair/replacement? The NH staff are the ones actually putting patients in and out - adjusting leg rests, etc. - and if they abuse that private equipment it is the NH's responsibility! I bought a very expensive, very good wheelchair for my Mom, with special elevated leg rests because her feet had been so damaged by another facility, and her circulation was so bad, that she'd literally had a total bypass surgery below her right knee to avoid amputation. She was VULNERABLE! Her wheelchair was beaten up, damaged by staff, her leg rests were broken, and yes - the NH paid for new leg rests, etc. - but Mom had to go for 6 weeks without before that happened. (BTW, that nursing home didn't provide any wheelchairs to residents, or any other equipment).
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"Loyalty" to your employer should never include breaking the law to cover for them, endangering people or acting immorally.

Does your employer have an employee manual in which it explains any sort of protocol for reporting broken equipment? If not, then I would request a protocol in writing from your manager that is distributed to all the staff. Any communications you have with with manager or admin should be through email so that you have a record of what was said and when. Then, after a "reasonable" period of time, i would send a follow-up email stating that the equipment has not been fixed and a dangerous and illegal situation is being created. Don't be accusatory or emotional or threatening, just informative. But you should also state that you will need to seek further action outside of the facility if the the unsafe situation for both the staff and residents is not cleared up asap. There may also be some sort of ombudsman organization that this can be reported to but I'm not familiar with it, This will protect the residents and your job. Good luck and God bless for having a moral compass.
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Reply to Geaton777
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Actually I’m living in Israel. Israel was founded by socialists (if not communists) and although times have changed and May Day parades with red flags are in the past there are pretty strong protections for workers rights. There are special labor courts. Were I to be fired the burden of proof would fall on the employer to prove that it was not in retribution for my complaint.

Having said that, I’ll work as a janitor before I stand by and watch innocent helpless people be endangered. I would not have said anything unless I was angry enough to quit.
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Reply to jacobstein1960
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AlvaDeer Aug 4, 2019
Thank you, and very interested in hearing about the laws of protection. Much less here. And thank you for your advocacy of the helpless in your care. What is disturbing is that while your laws for the worker may be a bit better than ours, the care of the helpless is apparently not. Good luck, Jacob.
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You might be interested in reading a book called "Wilful Blindness" by Margaret Heffernan. It explains how it comes about that egregious malpractices of all sorts are sustained by groups' cultures and mindsets.

All the same you are an employee of an organisation, and it would be reasonable of that organisation to expect you first of all to follow the procedure it lays down for reporting concerns and complaints. Did you?

Talking to co-workers and service users isn't it. You should first of all have taken this to your line manager. If nothing happened, then you go either further up the reporting chain, or to external regulators.

But to say you must "never" make a complaint to the health department is disingenuous and nonsensical. There are all kinds of situations that might arise when you would be morally, and arguably professionally, obliged to.

Asking your manager on what basis he claims to know that you made a formal complaint to the department of health is a fair question, certainly one I'd want answered if I were you. Did the person you spoke to agree that your report would be treated in confidence?

Anyway - so what's the outcome of this conversation with your line manager so far? Will the wheelchair(s) be repaired? What will be done to address the various manual handling problems?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I am wondering: are families of nursing home patients afraid to contact the department of health? I get that impression a little bit. Maybe they don’t want to anger the management?
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gdaughter Aug 8, 2019
OF course. SOme don't know they can or who they should go to, and everyone is intimidated and fearful there will be retribution and it taken out on their loved one.
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You are to be appreciated for your work in a nursing home. You evidently care about your patients. Yes, first I would go to the manager to inform him/her of the issues with broken brakes on wheelchairs, BUT I would put it in writing, sign it and keep a copy of what I submitted. If you have a great manager, the problems will be resolved quickly. If they are not resolved, then you should consider your next course of action. Best to you for all you do.
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Reply to TBetty
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my2cents Aug 6, 2019
Yes! Report things that need attention ONLY in writing so there is a record. Don't make it threatening or anything...just report it. If there happens to be an inspection of the facility where you are asked for reports of safety, or other, issues, you can share the info.

Do not record your info in anyway that would violate HIPPA rules. If you make notes that you intend to keep for yourself (in case you can't access email), then use code name for patient and do not mention specific health issues. Something like Granny Jane, requires wheelchair for all movement, brakes broken, reported xx day, xx time, email to John Doe.
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Every facility must have on staff maintenance workers. Contact one of them and demand the items be fixed at once. And do this in writing and keep copies. You might consider giving one to the management. This is totally unacceptable and I think highly illegal as well. Give the manager the facts and ask that things be fixed. Do this verbally and then hand him the same request in writing. Tell him you made a copy for your legal file. I have done this and boy, everything gets fixed at once. Apparently the bosses of the manager don't like it when they are given complaints - makes them look bad. Your manager is protecting himself. Give him a chance to make things right and tell him if he does not do that, you will go higher. Keep detailed records of everything going on.
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Reply to Riley2166
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I suspect the manager has NOT been given the staffer's name, but is saying he "knows it was you" to all staff to see what their reaction is. And he presumes he will KNOW who made the complaint based on the reaction he gets. Follow the good advice on this forum and document photograph and sign, again and again as necessary. Thank you for doing such a great job and caring! Best wishes to you and all the best for your future.
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Reply to Psyclinz
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Thank you for protecting your resident. Yes. We are to look out for vulnerable people. The manager already knew about the unsafe equipment. Moreover, your loyalty to the business kept them from being sued to west hell... You are always protected when you do what's right for people. Let the devil be a liar... Keep up the good work! 🤗
My Mom is in nursing care. I appreciate your sharing....
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Reply to Psalms23
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